by Kelley Eskridge
A few days after I finished reading Dangerous Space, I cranked up some tunes to get through a tedious bit of work on the computer. Not far into the first song (I’ll confess it was something from Fall Out Boy’s latest album, but the specific doesn’t really matter) I stopped, stunned, and realized: music sounds different now. Damn.
Yeah, this story collection is that good. [If you’ve already read Solitaire you may have experienced your own “damn, she’s good” Eskridge moment.]
Eskridge captures the fierceness of wanting — whether it is desire for another person, to give sound to something new, to know and be known as yourself — and how it is caught up with fear and hope. Her characters explore (with varying degrees of certainty and risk) giving, giving up, giving in, giving to another, giving to self, and they choose complicated over easy, pretty much every time. It makes for better stories.
I knew before I was halfway through the first story (“Strings”, with the power of its imagined music) I’d read this book more than once. Then there was “And Salome Danced” with its impossibility and thrumming desire, and “City Life” asking questions about right and wrong… all seven stories are worth the investment of your time. They stay with you. (The title story, a novella, is the one I was thinking of when I had my music moment.)
I think good short stories, really good short stories, are inspiring. They plant ideas — sometimes you don’t even know they are doing it when you are reading them — and days or weeks or months later, you find yourself mulling over something that started with a story. I believe this book will be like that. I loved reading it, and parts of those stories are in my head now, and I’m not sure what they’ll do. Highly recommended.